Diving into the deep history of our Torrens
FROM PAGE 25
The first Swim-ThroughAdelaide – which became an annual event – was held in February 1911.
According to one report, it initially started from the Albert Bridge, near the zoo, ending at the weir. It was later switched to start at the weir and finish at the Adelaide University footbridge, the swimmers covering a distance of “One Mile and 200 Yards”, according to a report in the Adelaide Daily Herald newspaper of 1921.
By that time, it had attracted about 150 swimmers, who had to contend with a narrowed channel becaue of reeds encroaching from the riverbanks.
The old weir was damaged by floods and a new concrete one built in 1928-29. It included a footbridge from which the contestants could make a diving start.
And so it remained until the final race in 1969. The following year saw an official end to all swimming in the river, at which time the weir ceased to be a favoured diving place for youngsters.
Adelaide City Council has dredged the Torrens Lake from time to time, to remove silt and other rubbish. In 2014, the Federal Government provided $1 million to improve water quality and revegetate the banks, in a Landcare program with eight SA councils along the river.
That has included netting at outlets to prevent debris entering the river after storms, and may have reduced the rate of pollution. However, recent heavy rains have sent rubbish racing into the Torrens Lake from tributaries and stormwater drains.
Sadly, swimming and diving in the cooling waters in summer are likely to remain a distant, and fading, memory.
COOLING OFF: Adelaide youngsters escape the heat at the Gilberton Swimming Pool in 1967.
ON YOUR MARKS: Crowds watch as the competitors line up at the Torrens Weir for the start of the annual Swim-Through-Adelaide event in 1939. Pictures: ADVERTISER LIBRARY